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Cleatrip to boost mobile traffic in 2014

Dubai: Cleartrip, an India-based online travel portal, will focus on driving mobile traffic this year rather than expanding its footprint, according to the company’s top executive.

Despite previously stating that it is looking to expand in North Africa and Asia, Cleartrip has put aside talks until it gains more traction in the Middle East markets.

“We want to consolidate the markets that we are in and make sure we’re getting a good return out of them. When they’re up and running and we’ve got our products working well, then we can think about further geographical expansion,” Stuart Crighton, CEO of Cleartrip, told Gulf News in an interview.

Crighton declined to reveal profit and revenue for the last financial year (April 2012 to March 2013), except saying that the company will generate double-digit growth in revenue over the next 12 to 15 months.

“We will break even by the end of the second quarter of the next financial year (April 2014 to March 2015),” he added.

He said business in the region has grown between 70 and 75 per cent in the last two years.

According to Tarique Khatri, Senior Vice- President of Business Development of Cleartrip, the Middle East is expected to account for 20 per cent of total revenue in the current financial year (April 2013 to March 2014), up from 12 per cent in the previous year.

Cleartrip has successfully tailored its offers for customers in each country, says Jeff Strachan, general manager of Insights Management Consultancy, a business consultancy with a focus on tourism, hospitality and service industries.

As part of its strategy to localise its products, the travel portal will be rolling out new services on its mobile app, such as online cancellations and amendments, and hotel and air check-in, in the next three to six months, Crighton said.

Cleartrip expects to launch its revamped Arabic website in the next two weeks and an Arabic-language app by the beginning of the second quarter.

The company’s mobile app, which was launched last year, attracted 350,000 downloads from the region. It hopes to increase that to over a million downloads by the end of the next financial year, Crighton said.

At present mobiles account for 12 per cent of Cleartrip’s transactions in the region and 25 per cent of searches, according to Crighton. He expects 35 to 40 per cent of all transactions in the region to come from mobile devices in the next 24 months.

While mobile transactions are skewed towards corporate travellers, both corporate and leisure travellers have an equal share of searches, he said.

He pointed out that leisure travellers tend to search on their mobiles and transact on their desktops.

Also, there is a growing trend towards booking with low-cost carriers.

This year 35 per cent of travellers in the region booked with low-cost carriers and 65 per cent with full service carriers, while two years ago, low-cost carriers accounted for 10 per cent and full service carriers represented 90 per cent, according to Khatri.

Travel within a five-hour distance “is heavily skewed towards low-cost carriers,” Crighton said.

The low-cost carriers’ share is “as high as 60 per cent”, he added.